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AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week, top Texas leadership called for an “immediate review” of all policies related to the power grid in response to the latest estimates about future demand on the state’s power grid.

In a joint statement released Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pointed to recent testimony from Pablo Vegas, CEO of the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), where he told lawmakers Texas could need as much as 150,000 megawatts of power by 2030.

“That’s effectively almost doubling the peak demand of the ERCOT grid in about six years,” Vegas said at a June 12 hearing of the Senate Business and Commerce committee.

Abbott and Patrick also announced efforts to double the amount of money available through the Texas Energy Fund. Voters passed a resolution last November to create the $5 billion program, which will provide low-interest loans to incentivize the building of more dispatchable natural gas plants.

Abbott and Patrick’s statement noted the state has already received notices of intent to apply from companies totaling $39 million, “making the program nearly eight times oversubscribed.” They said they would seek to expand the program to $10 billion.

According to the statement, the average plant will take three to four years to complete, and new transmission lines will take three to six years to complete. 

“Texas is currently the fastest state to approve and build new plants and transmission lines because of our low regulations and pro-business policies, but we must move quickly,” the statement said.

In the same hearing in June, lawmakers heard striking statistics on the increasing energy demands of the Bitcoin and artificial intelligence sectors. As KXAN previously reported, Vegas said one graphics processing unit, which is a core technology for Artificial Intelligence (AI), uses as much power as an average home uses in an entire year. He compared one AI company’s energy demand to bringing half a million homes onto the grid in an instant.

Joshua Rhodes, a research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin, told KXAN the latest high-end estimates about peak demand should be “taken with a grain of salt.”

“If every single potential data center and green hydrogen facility and crypto mine and everything that possibly wants to connect in the next six years were to connect, then that demand would jump — could jump — up to 150 gigawatts. But that would be growth on a scale that we’ve never seen before,” he said.

However, he believes the forecast will help Texas be more proactive.

“The idea is that if we are planning for larger amounts of load, then we’ll be more proactive in doing things like building transmission and other supporting infrastructure to be able to meet it,” he explained. “It is, you know, kind of a thermometer as to where demand is going to grow in the state, so that we can be more proactive in building that infrastructure to that part of the state.”



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